I last saw the HMS Bounty docked in Eastport, Maine, her tall masts and elaborate rigging outlined against a gray sky.
The wood on her deck gleamed; and high above, dozens of colorful flags snapped and sang in the wind. Even a Midwestern landlubber could see that this historic ship was a beauty, a perfect addition to Eastport’s annual Pirate Festival. A sign at the end of the dock invited all pirates and wenches to a party on board that night. Standing on the dock by the ship, I imagined the life this crew must lead, sailing from port to port and event to event, bringing to life the legends of the tall ships.
Last night, one of the many headlines generated by the gigantic storm Sandy announced that the Bounty had sunk in wild seas off the North Carolina coast. Headed for St. Petersburg, Florida, they had charted a course that would hopefully skirt the worst of the storm, yet destruction still found them. Most members of the crew were rescued from the lifeboats, but the captain and one other person were washed away and are still missing (as of last night).
One crew member reportedly said, “The ship sank beneath us.” Photos from the rescue scene show only a few timbers tossed about in the waves. I can’t help but remember the proud and festive ship at the dock in Eastport.
Those two contrasting images of the Bounty remind me how quickly and unpredictably the seas of our lives change. Monster storms swamp our boats. Even when we think we’ve charted a sound, safe course, we never know what hurricane may tomorrow blow into our lives, destroying what we thought was secure, solid, and dependable.
The wreckage of the HMS Bounty caused me to check my anchor, to set it even more firmly. Only one hope is sure. Only one Rock is solid and immovable. Through the hurricanes of this life, God’s promises and enduring love guide our frail ships safely to the one final safe harbor. (Ps 107:1).
So God has given both his promise and his oath… Therefore, we who have fled to him [God] for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. (Hebrews 6:18-20)
Robin Mark sings a lovely version of the old hymn, “We Have an Anchor” in this video:
Here are the full lyrics of the song written by Priscilla Owens in 1882:
We Have an Anchor
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand,
For ’tis well secured by the Savior’s hand;
And the cables, passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy that blast, thro’ strength divine.
It will surely hold in the Straits of Fear—
When the breakers have told that the reef is near;
Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,
Not an angry wave shall our bark o’erflow.
It will firmly hold in the Floods of Death—-
When the waters cold chill our latest breath,
On the rising tide it can never fail,
While our hopes abide within the Veil.
When our eyes behold through the gath’ring night
The city of gold, our harbor bright,
We shall anchor fast by the heav’nly shore,
With the storms all past forevermore.
Thanks to Lana Turner for her photos of the HMS Bounty in Eastport.